SHILLONG, Dec 03: The modern day tool to battle corruption and bring about a transparent governance - Right To Information (RTI) may not be that powerful after all with instances of the state government failing to answer the RTI on the amount each parliamentary secretary has withdrawn in the form of salary, allowance and miscellaneous from the time they have joined office till the time the Meghalaya High court declared the Meghalaya parliamentary secretaries (appointment, salary, allowances and misc) act 2005 illegal and unconstitutional.
According to Madal Sumer Panaliar of Jowai, the state government is shying away from replying to the RTI filed by him on September 20, 2017 in which he had asked for the monthly salary, perks, TA/DA and other allowances which a parliamentary secretary has withdrawn from the government’s account.
Stating that the RTI application contained 10 questions and the government has chosen to reply only to question no 1 and 2 of the application, Sumer, said “The chief secretary’s office has admitted that since it is not a designated public authority, it has forwarded my application to relevant government departments to supply information which I have sought for. However, the chief minister’s office is quiet on the matter and no reply or communication has been received from this office so far”.
Sumer further stated that the parliamentary secretaries function under the shelter of the state act which clearly covers their appointment, salary, allowances and miscellaneous and with the recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court and the Meghalaya high court, the appointment, salary, allowances and other miscellaneous benefits which were extended and paid to the parliamentary secretaries are also declared illegal and unconstitutional.
“This is grossly a misappropriation of public money and government should come clean and open on the amount which individual parliamentary secretary should refund/repay back to the government,” Sumer added.
“I have a strong faith that our respected MLAs will lead the way by voluntarily refunding the money they have withdrawn and allow the government to utilize it for the welfare of general public,” said Sumer adding, “ This will send a strong message to people of Meghalaya that they are not power hungry but to serve the people”.